Thomas Amang and Triston Hodge had a couple of reasons to celebrate after the Switchbacks’ win over Austin Bold at Weidner Field and one reason not to hit the town Saturday night.
“The game needs a lot more rhythm. We’ll be in early tomorrow morning to train,” Switchbacks coach Brendan Burke said after a 4-1 win. “Our fans now have a taste of it, and they deserve better than what we put on tonight.”
The Bold scored first on a well-hit strike from distance from Xavi Baez roughly 15 minutes in.
“We started really slow, sloppy at times. I don’t know why,” Amang said.
“We didn’t have a good rhythm.”
Hadji Barry equalized from the penalty spot in the 22nd minute, his 20th goal of the season, before Hodge put the hosts up for good when he got to a bouncing ball in the box and smashed it past the Austin keeper. It was Hodge’s first goal with the Switchbacks.
“It was an elated feeling, you know, scoring my first goal for the club,” Hodge said.
“When I looked down, I saw the ball like right in front of me, and I just kicked it in.”
After scoring, Hodge lifted up his jersey to show off a shirt memorializing Tressy Edwards, someone he said carried him to soccer practice as a kid.
Two minutes after Hodge’s goal, Amang got on the end of a through ball from Andre Lewis and calmly finished his first goal at Weidner Field.
“It’s a great feeling,” Amang said. “I was looking for it, actually, because it was tough for me the (last) few years. I’m just trying to get back on track, trying to get some minutes to get back to my level. I was really happy for the first goal at home.”
The Switchbacks maintained a two-goal advantage thanks to some timely saves from Abraham Rodriguez and a goal-line clearance from Jimmy Ockford before Michee Ngalina scored the final goal by chipping Elliot Panicco in the 90th minute.
The win gives the Switchbacks 32 points from 20 matches, good for second in the Mountain Division.
“We’re happy in general yet we’re challenging ourselves to be better,” Burke said. “We’re coming in to work early tomorrow morning for a reason, but we’re way ahead of schedule with the rebuild here.”
The win may have come with a cost. Zach Zandi was subbed off at halftime after a collision late in the first half and went back to the locker room on crutches.
“He’s not in good shape,” Burke said.
The Switchbacks return to action Saturday at New Mexico United. United currently sit just outside the playoff picture.
“We need to be collectively better, and that starts with us as a staff,” Burke said. “We need to prepare in a way that we’re more dominant than we were tonight. Tonight, we hung on and killed them on the counter. We can be more dominant than that.”